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Readings in the Cantos: Volume I$
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Richard Parker

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781942954408

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781942954408.001.0001

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Canto 2

Canto 2

(p.43) 3 Canto 2
Readings in the Cantos: Volume I

Peter Liebregts

Liverpool University Press

After the fairly homogenous Canto 1, Canto 2 is the first of many Cantos that seems fragmentary and challenges the reader to find the pattern that links up the variety of voices, perspectives, and shifts in time and space. As such the form of this Canto reflects its two main themes: metamorphosis and vision. The visionary poet is able to see the essence of facts, or events, and to express how much these essences are interconnected: how the same basic archetypes recur throughout history and in art in ever-changing forms as variations upon a theme. The themes are poetically reinforced by the recurrent use of images and metaphors related to water as the symbol of endless change, while pride of place is given to the transformative powers of Dionysus through a retelling of one of the many myths from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, one of the great intertextual sources of The Cantos.

Keywords:   Vision, metamorphosis, history, myth, creation, Dionysus, Ovid

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